PERFECT FITNESS REGIMEN AND NATURAL COOKING #468 07/13/11
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The Body Symphonic: 6 Steps to Orchestrating the Perfect Fitness Regimen

By Mark W. McEachren

The coolest part of a symphony is watching all the players just before they start. In that single millisecond, the rise of the conductor's baton draws us in, focuses our attention, and takes us from audience member to participant. We're transformed. Now, what if transforming your body, the difference between sitting in front of your TV wishing you had a lean-mean-body and actually developing the talent to create it, was as simple as lifting that baton? Let's look at 6 Steps to Orchestrating the Perfect Regimen so that your one-man act can become the iconic Body Symphonic.

Imagine that you're now the conductor of your fitness regimen. Taking charge of your body transformation is no simple task, though; it's hard work. And what's usually missed in these beginning stages is that even before you begin the physical work . . . there's work to be done. Think of this like music study before playing an instrument. We would all like to skip a beat between thinking and doing, but if you want ripped and awesome, you definitely want to start with the foundation of exercise theory. The action of rock-solid intensity demands it.

So grab your baton and let's get on with the show!

Conductor along with a Woman Doing Various Exercises

  1. Composition. Every great work of art begins with a blank page. But that doesn't mean you have to have a blank stare (wink, wink). The brilliant thing about doing exercise programs like P90X® or INSANITY® is that the notes that create the sweet sound of success have been arranged for you. But before you Push Play on that first workout DVD, do your prep work. Read your guidebook and figure out the schedule. Study the nutrition guide and plan your meals. Get your gear straight, know your support team, and take your fit test. Figure out what your goal is and how you are going to get there. Preparation and study will only make the process easier in the long run. Congratulations, you may move to first chair.
  2. Woman Warming UpWarming Up. Most professional musicians will pound out a few scales before playing a concert. They take the time to warm up before every practice and performance. Take the appropriate time to warm up your instrument. Your tuned-up body is far less likely to get injured, and no pain means More Gain!

    Increased muscle temperature improves muscle elasticity, dramatically reduces your chance of injury, helps you build greater endurance and strength, and helps get your head in the game. According to kinesiology expert Professor Duane Knudson, "You need to make tissues and tendons compliant before beginning exercise." In other words, get warm. This could be a light jog, jumping rope, jumping jacks, or sun salutations. If you want peak performance, an active warm-up is the best way to hit the high notes.

  3. Intermission. The music stops, the lights go up, everyone files into the lobby for a drink (or two), and the lines to the bathroom stretch down the hall. It's break time. Even the greatest performers need a release from supercharged focus and intensity, be it for only a few minutes. Short-term breaks create long-term success, which is why recovery is an essential part of every workout. The body actually changes while we are at rest; it recuperates and comes back stronger.

    Training for strength, endurance, or muscular growth all require different amounts of rest between sets. Lifting a very heavy load will sometimes require 3 to 5 minutes of recovery to replace the phosphagen stores needed for the next set. However, an endurance athlete may need as little as 30 seconds for a set that takes the same amount of time. However you are training, use your mini-intermissions as intended, and not as an excuse to check your email or switch the laundry over. If your program gives you a minute, stick to the minute. Life's a delicate balance and so is your exercise regimen. If you want your show to be one for the ages, it's essential to learn the artful balance of give and take.

  4. Woman Using a BandOrchestration. When you look at a piece of orchestral sheet music, there are often 12 different staffs for 50 or more instruments to follow. Somehow the violin, oboe, clarinet, flute, tuba, and bass know which line to follow, and what they produce is perfect music. This harmony is the act of blending all the parts and pieces, all the players, every intention, every personal desire into one crowd-pleasing masterpiece.

    This is also the beauty of a well-designed workout program. By combining an active warm-up to increase the temperature of the muscles, cardiovascular training to decrease lower-body fat and increase heart volume, resistance training to increase strength and lean body mass, and elasticity work to help promote recovery and increase range of motion, all the elements work in harmony with each other. Like players in a symphony, they blend together in a whirling spin of intensity and control to create the triumphant Body Symphonic.

  5. Take a Bow! A standing ovation says it all—the cheers, adulation, and a chest-pounding sense of pride are the earned rewards of the Body Symphonic. Your final act is a Cooldown. It's a slow, deliberate decrease of intensity to bring all the moving parts to rest. A simple 5-minute cooldown will guide you through this transition period. It can assist in recovery, help reduce muscle stiffness, and decrease adrenaline levels in your system. But more than anything, it allows you a chance to transition back to the "real" world, and focus on how hard you just worked. Take deep, easy breaths and feel your body relax as you replay the performance in your mind. Each day is an opportunity to set a new standard of excellence. Your mental highlight reel will prove to be the greatest measure of success.
  6. Woman Using Body GlovesEncore! You've done it. You have set the stage; you have the tools, but most importantly, the confidence to take command in every single exercise performance you create. This is just the beginning, as every day can be an encore of the amazing workout you just completed. In order to create physical change, your encore might need to occur 5 or 6 days a week, or three to four times for maintenance. Not the same workout, obviously, but one that combines all of the elements of your composition. And every time you purposefully slide a DVD into your player, you'll know at the very core of you that change is about to happen. No feelings of doubt, no hesitation, no more going through the motions. Keep moving forward and focus on full-blown, hyper-intensity, turbo-charged change. And if you commit to putting the work in every day, you'll soon see all the pieces come together into the Body Symphonic—your ultimate masterpiece.

Related Articles
"6 Ways to Fire Up Your Metabolism"
"8 Ways to Avoid Summer Weight Gain"
"Could Getting Moving Be Your Muse?"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, July 18th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Cookbook Review: Super Natural Cooking

By Denis Faye

Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Ingredients into Your Cooking by Heidi Swanson. Celestial Arts, $20.00.

Woman Covering Her Mouth

Back in the day, Beachbody® employed a rather aloof nutrition expert named Chef Pierre, who possessed a singular skill for converting unhealthy recipes into nutritious meals. Unfortunately, we had to let Chef Pierre go after a particularly outrageous Christmas party during which he validated a half-dozen or so French stereotypes, but his philosophy—that healthy eating begins with the ingredients—lives on in our hearts.

That's why I'm particularly pleased about the cookbook Super Natural Cooking, in which chef Heidi Swanson will assuredly convert even the most diehard refined flour user to the ways of natural, whole food. While this is, technically, a cookbook, it can also be considered a primer in the ways of whole foods, divided into five chapters:Cookbook: Super Natural Cooking

  1. Build a natural foods pantry
  2. Explore a wide range of grains
  3. Cook by color
  4. Know your superfoods
  5. Use natural sweeteners

Every chapter contains a little lesson, followed by several ingredients honoring that lesson, and then several recipes. For example, chapter three is about carotenoids—the phytonutrients found in produce that provide their color as well as myriad health benefits. The chapter opens with a little more detail about carotenoids, runs through a list of the better known ones, mentions several fruits and veggies you'll find them in, and ends with a bunch of great recipes—including Crema de Guacamole, a delicious avocado soup rich in potassium, fiber, and the carotenoid lutein, which studies show can help with heart health, and combat arthritis and several forms of cancer.

Chapter one is also particularly useful. In fact, it should be required reading for anyone who happens to have a kitchen in their home. It offers detailed alternatives to refined flour, sugars, and oils. For example, check out barley flour as a healthy substitute for baking—but, as the book notes, make sure to lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees when replacing conventional flour with barley flour.

Super Natural Cooking also offers a great appendix on "Basic Recipes and Techniques" that's worth checking out. Within, you'll find easy ways to make tomato sauce, all-natural baking powder, egg-and-dairy-free mayo, veggie stock, among other staple recipes.

One thing to keep in mind is that this is a vegetarian cookbook, even though it's not promoted that way. But this shouldn't inhibit you carnivores from checking it out. It's void of any meat-free dogma, and the lessons it teaches can apply to any recipe, whether it contains animal protein or not. So pick it up and prepare to be educated.

Related Articles
"The World's Healthiest Foods"
"5 Ways to Make Over Your Veggies"
"Seafood Done Smart"

Denis FayeQuestions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, July 18th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Chalene's Tips on Spousal Support

Just because you're on a health kick doesn't necessarily mean your spouse is. Chalene Johnson, creator of TurboFire®, shares her tips on how to set a good example and for getting you and your spouse on the same journey to a healthier lifestyle.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Recipe: Rainbow Salsa

Recipe: Rainbow Salsa

Here's a colorful, tasty, healthful salad that's perfect for serving as a dip, on traditional favorites like tacos and burritos, or on burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill. Enjoy!

  • 1 large tomato, diced small
  • 1/3 green bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/3 yellow bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced small
  • 1 small avocado, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 large sweet red onion, peeled and diced small
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice

Toss together in a medium-sized bowl until mixed well. Chill and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
83 3 grams 3 grams 13 grams 4 grams < 1 gram

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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